OCTOBER 25, 2015
FIA allays F1 driver safety fears
Pastor Maldonado says he is happy with the safety levels in formula one.
With the death of Jules Bianchi still on minds in the paddock, the sport was further shaken at Sochi two weeks ago when Carlos Sainz and Romain Grosjean crashed heavily in separate incidents.
The Sainz crash raised many questions, including how his Toro Rosso appeared to 'submarine' under the Tec-pro barriers, causing a long delay in his extrication.
F1's governing FIA, however, allayed those fears during a briefing in Austin.
Safety Commission chief Andy Mellor said the barriers worked well, absorbing Sainz's 153kph impact within just 4 seconds with a maximum G reading of 46.
The Spaniard, however, raced the next day, with Mellor insisting that he was in fact never fully submerged under the Tec-pro, even though he acknowledged that the way the barriers moved was not ideal.
"We are looking for solutions so that does not happen again," he promised the drivers, according to Auto Motor und Sport.
Mellor said it only took marshals and medical officials so long to extricate Sainz because the Toro Rosso driver had signalled that he was conscious and not in any danger.
And the FIA is also speeding ahead on the safety front in other areas.
In Austin, Fernando Alonso and Daniil Kvyat's cars have been fitted with the new bespoke high-speed cameras, which in future will collect vital information about driver injuries when they are in use up and down the field.
"We want to see precisely what the head is doing in front, rear and side impacts," Mellor said.
Drivers were also shown various potential solutions for driver cockpit protection, including the 'halo' concept proposed by Mercedes, which will soon be tested.
"We are confident that the FIA and the teams are always working to make the cars safer," Maldonado said in a statement provided by his press aide Arturo Mora.
"We know we're in a high-risk sport," he added, "reaching incredible speeds of over 300kph and corners at over 200kph, but we see accidents like Sainz and Grosjean and they have no injuries.
"When everything is working as it should, the level of safety in F1 is high."